Berlin meeting – next stage towards the Conference of States Parties
December 8, 2014

A second round of informal consultations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) First Conference of States Parties (1CSP), hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office, took place in Berlin 27-28 November. The meeting, attended by over 70 signatory and ratifying governments, plus civil society and UN agencies represented the next step in a preparatory process toward the first CSP.

The consultations built on discussions that began in Mexico City in September with a first round of informal meetings, as well as the ideas outlined in a series of non-papers developed by several states in the interim. This facilitated decision-making on a few key points. The timeline for future preparatory meetings has been agreed, with the first CSP now scheduled for late August/early September 2015. Mexico’s role as the Provisional Secretariat has been confirmed, and a “Friends of the Chair” group will be formed to help manage the process through to the CSP. An Open-Ended Working Group to develop a reporting template has been established under Sweden’s guidance, while Ghana will facilitate further discussion on financing mechanisms. There is also growing agreement on decision-making procedures although differences of opinion still exist.

Unresolved, however, were questions regarding the participation of non-signatories and in particular civil society at the CSP. Several governments, most notably from Europe, indicated that they favour expanding civil society participation to include organisations that are openly opposed to the Treaty. In an apparent acknowledgement that this may work against the smooth-running of Treaty institutions, this was accompanied by calls, again principally from European states, to limit the nature and extent of participation of all non-state organisations. Other delegations, however, challenged these proposals. Some argued that only non-state organisations that supported the ATT’s object, purpose and implementation should be welcome in formal Treaty processes. With no agreement reached, the issue has been passed to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, the next meeting host, to resolve.

A Control Arms delegation with participants from all regions attended the Berlin meeting and contributed ideas and perspectives. Interventions were delivered on all the major agenda areas, including participation, rules of procedure, and reporting.

A new resource by ATT Legal that surveys the financing mechanisms used in other treaties was included in the meeting papers. Prior to the meeting, Control Arms organized a public action that reinforced the coalition’s call to governments that they have a “#chance2change” the arms trade if they implement the ATT strongly and effectively.

States will meet again in Trinidad and Tobago on 23-24 February 2015 for the first formal Preparatory Meeting for the CSP to resume discussions, although much work needs to be done in the interim period. The ATT enters into force on 24 December 2014.